Welcome back to our journey with Kevin Schoeninger, as he guides us along the Spiritual Growth Monthly path. This month Kevin has been delving into four different stages of meditation. We started with Conscious Relaxation, followed by Deep Concentration, both of which were easy enough. Maybe even familiar. But now we encounter bigger concepts. Concepts which might have triggered anxiety in our meditation past, because they seem to belong to people with special abilities. People who are different from us, like a higher life form somehow. People who experience transcendence.
Now I am certain Kevin has no intention to cause us anxiety of any kind. In fact, as you read or listen to his message, you realize he considers transcendence very natural, and that any of us can experience transcendence with a little practice. In fact, we may have already experienced it without knowing what it was.
For some of us, however, the word “transcendence” might conjure up an image of an experience only shared by saints, gurus, mystics and the like. Or on a darker side, something touted by “spiritualists”…around a table in a dark, candle lit, generally creepy room.
Of course, transcendence is really only about getting out of yourself; lifting your awareness away from your frantic thoughts, and the words that trigger all sorts of emotional reactions. I use the idea of transcendence, because to me, the word itself is a perfect example of all the stuff we attach to language; stuff that doesn’t belong there. If our connotations about transcendence have made us believe it is unachievable, then we’ll give up before we even get started. Instead, maybe part of transcendence is just learning to leave those limiting beliefs behind.
Kevin’s article doesn’t waste time dissecting language. That was my own knee-jerk reaction. But he does assure us that the reason we can all experience transcendence is because it comes from a part of the brain that he calls “pre-linguistic.”
We may forget sometimes all the non-verbal experiences we had as infants. We absorbed this wonderful new world, all without language to tie us down or prevent us from direct contact with everything we could taste, touch and see. Transcendence might be something like that. So how do we get that experience back? Kevin has tactics he calls “cues” that can help us move from our barrage of thoughts, to a quieter state. He calls these “Seven Secrets for Transcendence.”
1. “Feel your body as a whole from the inside. Feel the entire space inside your skin.”
This cue, Kevin says, activates that “pre-linguistic” part of our brains, allowing us to feel sensations without analyzing them. Rather than trying to force our minds to be still, we can allow the quieting to occur naturally as our awareness becomes occupied on how the space inside our bodies feels.
2. “Space, Silence, Stillness.”
Once we have connected, Kevin says, with feeling our inner bodies, we can allow our awareness to expand in these three areas, to move closer toward feelings of transcendence. He suggests focusing on your interior body as empty, open space, and really experiencing what that feels like.
We may usually think of silence and stillness as the absence of sound, or a quieting of our thoughts. But maybe they are something we can feel as well.
Now this whole idea of “feeling” may be difficult for some of us. People whose lives are dominated by thinking, can lose touch with sensations. But practice in meditation can help. It pulls us out of our continual “head trip,” and expands our awareness of other ways of being.
3. “Focus into open, clear space, silence, and stillness in the center of your brain and allow that feeling to expand upwards and outwards through the top of your head.”
Some of us may have difficulty feeling our bodies as a whole, so Kevin suggests this exercise to focus our attention on something smaller, and then letting the feeling it generates expand on its own.
Imagining our minds opening up and stillness flowing out and connecting beyond ourselves gives our minds a picture to focus on, so we can feel the experience without thinking about it in words. It might also help us feel connected to the space, silence and stillness of the universe beyond ourselves.
When we have finished, Kevin recommends drawing our attention back downward, to our bodies and the space where we exist. He calls this “grounding” ourselves, so we can return to our daily lives.
4. “Feel your body within the space around you.”
This cue is an excellent way to stop for a moment and just be present wherever you are. It can even be helpful after meditation, if we feel we have drifted away. It allows us to return softly to the moment we are in, and the physical world we experience, and can be done with your eyes either open or closed.
5. “Imagine yourself as a clear still reflecting pool or the clear blue sky.”
Sometimes it might be easier to forget about our bodies all together, and imagine ourselves as existing as something totally unlike ourselves. To “be” cool, still water, or a wide open sky. There are no boundary lines that exist in our skins. We could imagine ourselves vast and flowing, and eternally free.
After all these cues for how to move beyond our analytical minds and endless thinking, Kevin offers two last cues that really give our busy minds a challenge.
6. “Awareness of Awareness itself, Awareness of ‘the Observer’.”
If we are reading, analyzing, or just thinking a thousand thoughts at once, there is still another part of us that observes this thinking from the outside. What happens, Kevin asks, if we step back and try to focus our awareness on this observer. To watch it instead of whatever we were thinking about. Our minds sort of stop for a minute, and quiet down. We can’t contemplate the observer and think busy thoughts at the same time.
7. “Ask yourself ‘Who is this Observer?’”
Kevin suggests trying this idea, and seeing what we discover. What we are apt to find is that the “observer” which exists within all of us is always calm, never judging, never upset. The more we can connect with that part of ourselves, the more we can transcend whatever bothers us in our lives.
This is only an overview of Kevin’s seven cues. He explains each one in more detail, on the Spiritual Growth Monthly website, and I recommend reading or listening to the entire article. Then if we practice the “secrets for transcendence” regularly, we may find ourselves able to transcend our problems more easily every day.
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